VAMP’s response to “Prostitutes of God”

28/09/2010 at 07:38 1 comment

by Kate Hawkins

Last Monday, the UK Independent newspaper published a story about a new film called “Prostitutes of God” as one of its main online news stories. Made by a former Independent journalist, the film for VBS TV, is a sensationalist view through very western eyes of the devadasi system – which is equated with pimping, trafficking and abuse.

Within hours, sex workers in Sangli had begun watching the film, which was serialised in parts on the Internet over the course of the week. They were furious at the way they were portrayed, at the ethics of the film-maker, and of the misrepresentation of their lives and their religion. Their collective, VAMP, sent their community media unit out to film responses to the film.

This brief (3.5) minute clip is VAMP’s response to “Prostitutes of God”.

http://www.youtube.com/v/16OGyssJTvo?fs=1&hl=el_GR

VAMP present their incisive views about sex work; religion and faith; livelihoods; issues of consent; ethics and cross-cultural sensitivities while making documentary films.

In the age of the Internet, people who used to be the objects of white people’s gaze with no right of reply now have access to the representations that are made of them, and the technological means to answer back. A westerner may seize the headlines, but there’s now scope for there to be a debate and to bring those who in the past would have remained voiceless victims into that debate to represent themselves. It is a great opportunity to put the record straight.

This clip has been produced by Sangli Talkies, the newly-launched video unit of SANGRAM / VAMP. Watch it on you tube!

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Douglas Fox  |  28/09/2010 at 10:48

    The documentary is interesting to watch but the journalist had a very obvious agenda when making the film. She was insulting to Hinduism in general (referral to fat Hindu Gods) and extremely disrespectful to the Goddess of the Devadasi and dismissive of their devotion.

    Typically with anti sex work campaigners she points out the obvious differences between those who are successful and those who are not. Those who enjoy their work and who make a good living obviously being pimps (of course). Those who work in communities who are organised and use safe sex practises are contrasted unfairly with the lives of those in rural communities who feel pressured because of Indian culture and the overwhelming poverty that is characteristic of India to practise unsafe sex. She actually outs one of the women as having HIV apparently with out her consent.

    The issue of poverty in India and child labour is a tragedy that has to be addressed not with western notions of right and wrong but through education and working with (in this case) sex worker communities to establish what is right for that community. Pointing out that a way of life is wrong because it upsets western notions of morality and of right and wrong is arrogant and patronising. It is actually abusive.

    Sexual spirituality and the links between Goddess worship and sacred prostitution is ancient. I worship the Goddess and understanding this spiritual dimension to sex work is very important for me personally and for sex worker activism.
    I write about it on http://www.harlotsparlour.com where I have written a little more about this documentary.

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